India has something for every kind of traveler – from beach holidays on a $10 per night budget and an insanely luxurious live-like-a-queen stay that will cost you $5, 000 a night to check into a palace. And then there’s everything else in between. But where do you start?
A five-hour flight from Singapore will get you to most places but given the smorgasbord of destinations available, it’s quite hard to decide what exactly you’d like to see.
As we are, unabashedly, huge fans of Game of Thrones, we present: five places in India that would’ve made for great sets in a Game of Thrones episode. If you’re someone who thinks the Game of Thrones is an actual game (I’m shocked no one’s come up with that yet), don’t worry; these places will still blow your mind.
Gingee Fort, Pondicherry
#GoT lookalike: The Eyrie hidden away behind some rocks near at Gingee Fort in Pondicherry
Built on top of 3 hillocks and made up of 3 citadels connected by a fort wall, Gingee Fort is more than 1, 000 years old. Built by the Chola kings in the 9th century, it’s seen multiple modifications and rulers over the centuries. The lower fort has granaries, prison cells, ammunition holds and a pond to bathe elephants. The steep climb up to the main fort takes 45 minutes but the view and the wooden drawbridge that leads to nowhere are more than worth it, really.
How to get there: Fly to Chennai and drive 140km (2.5 hours) to Villupuram district where the fort is located. Also visit Pondicherry 70 kms (1.5 hours) away, a lovely little beach town with steeped in French colonial history.
Church of St Francis of Assisi, Goa
#GoT lookalike: A perfect setting for the Red Wedding
Famous for its beaches, green hills, cheap beer and spicy food – and also for rave parties, music festivals, and art retreats – Goa has enough to keep you busy for weeks. When you’re finally craving for some cultural enlightenment, drive down to Velha, old Goa. The charming, winding streets will take you to this 500-year-old church built by the Portuguese. With the ceiling decorated with elaborate frescoes and walls covered with painted panels, it’s one of the most magnificent remnants of Goa’s Portuguese heritage.
How to get there: Fly to Goa and drive 26km (45 minutes) north to Velha. The state capital, Panaji, is about 10km away and is one of the many options for your base.
Fort Dansborg, Tranquebar
#GoT lookalike: While we didn’t find 8, 000 Unsullied at this Astapor-like place in Tranquebar, this Danish fort was used as a prison for soldiers in the 17th century by the Danes
This one was a lucky find. We were driving from Pondicherry to Rameswaram when we spotted a rusty old sign that said ‘Danish fort.’ More curious than cats, we followed it to arrive at a forbidden-looking fort sitting on the prettiest beach in the Bay of Bengal. Built in 1620 as a base for the Danish settlement in the region, Fort Dansborg was strategically located for attacks on Ceylon in Sri Lanka and part of it was used as a prison for soldiers. Currently housing a (badly curated) museum with tons of artifacts and documents from the original fort, visit for gorgeous views and the quaint town that it’s a part of – Tranquebar, the Land of the Singing Waves.
How to get there: Fly to Chennai and drive 270km (5.5 hours) south to Tranquebar. Stay at Bungalow on the Beach, a beautiful heritage non-hotel.
Parsi Point, Panchgani
#GoT lookalike: A stunning view of Slaver’s Bay in Essos
Panchgani is a hill station in the Western Ghats, the lush mountain range that runs along the west coast of India (and also a UNESCO World Heritage site recognized for its biodiversity). Now notorious for its many elite boarding schools, Panchgani used to be a summer hideaway for the British in the early 19th century, and continues to be a getaway for city slickers from Mumbai and Pune. The city is riddled with viewing points and Parsi Point is the one with the most magnificent view. Pick a clear day to visit.
How to get there: Fly to Pune and drive 110km (2.5 hours) to Panchgani. Alternatively, fly to Mumbai and drive 250km (4 hours) on a fantastic 6-lane expressway.
Sim’s Park, Coonoor
#GoT lookalike: Whispers of betrayals and betrothals in the gardens of Kings Landing
Coonoor is where the rich in India build their house-in-the-hills. An hour’s drive from its more popular (and crowded) sister hill station, Ooty, its verdant slopes and tea estates are just what the psychiatrist doctor prescribed. Sim’s Park is a 100-year-old botanical garden with over 1, 000 species of trees and plants brought in from all over the world. The landscaped gardens and flowerbeds, spread over 12 hectares of natural hilly slopes, are the envy of every horticulturist.
How to get there: Fly to Coimbatore and drive 78km (2 hours) through dense forests and 14 hairpin bends. Otherwise, drive 35km from the airport to Mettupalayam and take the toy train up to Coonoor.
For more #GoT inspired destinations, check out Upali’s site,Horn Please, OK.